NATO Official Suggests Territorial Exchange for Ukraine’s NATO Membership Amid Russia-Ukraine Conflict

 

Stian Jenssen, the head of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s office, has sparked a nuanced debate by proposing a potential scenario where Ukraine could consider ceding occupied territories to Russia in exchange for NATO membership. The suggestion emerged during a panel debate in Arendal, Norway, shedding light on ongoing discussions about Ukraine’s future status after the protracted conflict.

Jenssen’s proposition, as reported by the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang, outlines the concept that Ukraine might relinquish certain regions to Russia as a strategic move to secure entry into the NATO alliance. This proposal, he suggests, could potentially contribute to resolving the Russia-Ukraine conflict by focusing on preventing further territorial disputes.

The shift in the discourse surrounding Ukraine’s possible NATO membership is notable. Jenssen underscores the shared interest of preventing future conflicts and emphasizes that the acquisition of new territories by Russia appears unlikely. Instead, the focus has shifted to what Ukraine can regain from its occupied lands.

While these suggestions have caused ripples in the diplomatic waters, Jenssen clarifies that his proposition is part of the ongoing deliberations regarding Ukraine’s post-conflict status. He acknowledges that similar ideas have been discussed by others, although he refrains from divulging specific details. Jenssen underlines that the exchange of territory for NATO membership is just one of several potential solutions on the table.

Jenssen’s viewpoint stands in contrast to earlier statements made by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Stoltenberg had emphasized that any negotiations pertaining to the end of the occupation should be determined by the Ukrainian government’s timing and terms.

Jenssen’s remarks have evoked swift and strong reactions from Ukrainian officials. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Oleg Nikolenko, deems the idea “totally unacceptable.” Nikolenko emphasizes that territorial negotiations are not customary between NATO and Ukraine, and suggests that the focus should remain on expediting Ukraine’s victory and securing full NATO membership.

The complexity of the situation is underscored by Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s Security Council, who finds Jenssen’s proposal puzzling. He emphasizes Ukraine’s unique historical challenges since World War II and underscores the importance of liberating the occupied territories.

Critics, such as Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s presidential office, argue that the proposed territorial exchange could result in a “deliberate loss of democracy.” Such a move, they contend, could empower criminal elements and undermine the principles of international law.

In response, Dmitry Medvedev, vice chairman of the Russian Security Council, intriguingly welcomes Jenssen’s suggestion. He playfully speculates that some of the disputed territories might include the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, potentially leading to the reevaluation of Lviv as a new capital with Polish agreement, harkening back to Lviv’s historical connection to Poland.

Article by Prague Forum

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